Madhav Nepal is Nepal’s new premier, Maoists bow out

May 23rd, 2009 - 6:09 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 23 (IANS) A 56-year-old former student of Bihar’s Goenka College became Nepal’s new prime minister Saturday after an election on the floor of the interim parliament had no challengers though the Maoists boycotted the exercise and announced they would not join the new government.

Madhav Kumar Nepal, former chief of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), will now lead the republic’s second communist-led government after a brief nine-month communist rule in the 1990s.

While 22 parties in the interim parliament supported Nepal, the Maoists, the biggest party in the house, as well as two fringe Left parties boycotted the proceedings.

The Maoists, who were forced to step down from power after a row over the sacking of the army chief, Saturday said while they would not boycott parliament, they would boycott the new government.

Prakash Kaji Shrestha, deputy chief of the party in parliament, condemned the new government as “unnatural” and guided by “imperialistic and expansionist” forces.

Nepal, a former deputy home minister and deputy prime minister, joined the communist movement in 1966 as a student inspired by the philosophy of 19th century Indian thinker Rahul Sankrityayan and the autobiographical “Mother” written by Russian author Maxim Gorky.

In 1974, Nepal left his job at a commercial bank to become a full-time member of the communist party and spent several years underground when political parties were banned in the country.

Nepal’s leadership came under a cloud in 2002-03 when his party joined the puppet coalition government run by a power-hungry King Gyanendra and Nepal himself “applied” to the king for the post of prime minister.

Though his party later left the alliance and joined a pro-democracy movement against the king, its volte face made it suffer in the elections last year when Nepal lost from both his constituencies to little-known Maoist candidates.

Enjoying close ties with India’s Left parties as well as the Congress, Nepal said his priority would be drafting a new constitution by next year, improving law and order and addressing people’s aspirations.

Though the new government means an end to the vacuum created since the resignation of then Maoist prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda May 4, Nepal however faces a rocky road.

Besides having antagonised the Maoists, the largest party in the house, the communist bid to form the new government has also created a deep fissure in its new ally, the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, leaving it open to a vertical split in the days to come.

The Nepal government would also have to handle the Terai parties with kid gloves as well as face division in his own party.

It would also be a difficult task trying to improve law and order.

On the day Nepal was nominated the new prime minister, a bomb ripped through one of the oldest churches in Kathmandu valley, killing two women at prayer and injuring nearly a dozen more.

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